New insight into the civil justice system enabled by data shared by Data First
Accredited researchers can apply to use a new de-identified dataset sharing information from the civil justice system in England and Wales. The dataset contains information about all civil cases heard in the County Court, and property repossession claims submitted through the Possession Claim Online portal.
Access to this civil court dataset for research in the public good will expand our understanding of users making and defending civil claims. It will also increase our understanding of the progress and outcomes of a wide range of civil disputes - including money claims, damages and housing-related cases.
The dataset is now available to apply to access via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service. More information about the data shared and how to access it is available through the ADR UK Data Catalogue and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Data First webpage.
Data First is a ground-breaking data linking, sharing and research programme, led by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and funded by ADR UK, recently renewed for a further three years to 2025. The programme is unlocking the potential of the wealth of data already held by the MoJ and linking administrative datasets across the justice system and with other government departments. In enabling accredited researchers to access this data in an ethical and responsible way, Data First is enhancing the evidence available to shape policy and practice.
The availability of this data follows the release of criminal courts and prisons, probation, and family court data and precedes an upcoming cross-justice system linkage which will connect people across these services for the first time.
About the data
The civil court dataset provides data on:
- both people and companies acting as parties to civil court cases (as claimants and defendants)
- case events including hearings, judgments and warrants
- overall case information.
The dataset covers records from 1 January 2012 until 31 January 2022. It has been extracted from two operational systems owned by His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS):
- CaseMan; used for case management within the County Court in England and Wales
- Possession Claim Online service; used to take court action to repossess a property if someone owes money for rent or a mortgage.
The dataset has been de-duplicated, which means multiple records of the same person acting as a party to a civil case are identified and assigned a single unique identifier. This enables researchers to reliably investigate the patterns associated with individuals (for example landlords or tenants) who are repeatedly involved with civil justice claims while ensuring data remains de-identified.
Together with the wider body of data shared by Data First, the civil court dataset will help researchers better understand the end-to-end experiences of justice system users. This will provide further evidence to underpin the development of government policies and drive real progress in tackling social and justice issues.
The civil court dataset will soon be linked to other Data First products, including family court, magistrates’ court, Crown Court, prison and probation datasets. This cross-justice system linkage will open up the potential to provide new insights on end-to-end user journeys across justice jurisdictions, including patterns in transitions between key justice services and case types with substantial overlap between parties.
How to access the dataset
Researchers seeking to securely access any of the datasets produced by the Data First programme must first become accredited researchers under the Digital Economy Act. Researchers should apply for accreditation through the Research Accreditation Service. You can apply to access the specific data required for your project by completing a research project application for accreditation on the Research Accreditation Service. You will also need to submit a form to access secure data to MoJ.